terça-feira, 10 de junho de 2008

Keynesianism Redux

"Evidently, the "cyclically balanced budget" was the first Keynesian concept to be poured down the Orwellian memory hole, as it became clear that there weren't going to be any surpluses, just smaller or larger deficits. A subtle but important corrective came into Keynesianism: larger deficits during recessions, smaller ones during booms. (...)

For if the government was supposed to step on the spending accelerator during recessions, and step on the brakes during booms, what in blazes is it going to do if there is a steep recession (with unem ployment and bankruptcies) and a sharp inflation at the same time? What can Keynesianism say? Step on both accelerator and brake at the same time? The stark fact of inflationary recession violates the fundamental assumptions of Keynesian theory and the crucial program of Keynesian policy. Since 1973-74, Keynesianism has been intellectually finished, dead from the neck up.

But very often the corpse refuses to lie down, particularly one made up of an elite which would have to give up their power positions in the academy and in government. One crucial law of politics or sociology is: no one ever resigns. And so, the Keynesians have clung to their power positions as tightly as possible, never resigning, although a bit less addicted to grandiose promises.

(...) Essentially, then, shorn of its intellectual groundwork, Keynesianism has become the pure economics of power, committed only to keeping the Establishment-system going, making marginal adjustments, babying things along through yet one more election, and hoping that by tinkering with the controls, shifting rapidly back and forth between accelerator and brake, something will work, at least to preserve their cushy positions for a few more years.

(...) The triumph of Keynesianism within the Reagan Administration stems from the rapid demise of the monetarists, the main competitors to the Keynesians within respectable academia. Having made a series of disastrously bad predictions, they who kept trumpeting that "science is prediction," the monetarists have retreated in confusion, trying desperately to figure out what went wrong and which of the many "M"s they should fasten on as being the money supply. The collapse of monetarism was symbolized by Keynesian James Baker's takeover as Secretary of the Treasury from monetarist-sympathizer Donald Regan. With Keynesians dominant during the second Reagan term, the transition to a Keynesian Bush team--Bush having always had strong Keynesian leanings--was so smooth as to be almost invisible. " Making Economic Sense by Murray Rothbard

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